- January 20, 2016
- Posted by Claire Goldsworthy
- No comments
We often talk about the ‘footprint’ of the fashion industry, but when do we stop and ask ourselves about the impact of the shoe we wear when we make that footprint? Sustainability in the fashion industry is a complicated topic, but rather than being overwhelmed by the complexity of it, it’s an issue easily addressed if we simply look closer to home. Start small and consider the shoes you choose to buy before you look at the environmental footprint they leave.
Of course, the shoe is just the tip of the issue, or the ‘sole’ of the issue to be exact. When we spend our money on any fashion item, be it shoes, clothing, or accessories, we are saying something about what kind of world we want to be a part of. When we’re faced with the decision, many of us still associate the words ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ with the thought of negativity, exploitation, sweatshops and mass production, because we’re forced to think of the consequences. While this is certainly not a myth when it comes to the fashion industry, there are small changes that any consumer can ponder if they want their wardrobe to tell a slightly less harrowing tale.
In this day and age, it is too easy to find information on any brands’ ethical and sustainable practices. If you really want to get down and dirty with your research, dig up the track record of the head company that owns the clothing brand you’re about to buy, or read up on the associated issues surrounding ethical shopping, or arm yourself with knowledge on other alternatives, and be aware of what cost textile farming has on the ecosystem… Being informed does not mean you need to sacrifice your own sense of style.
Advocating this eco-shift is Sydney based womenswear designer, Rachael Cassar, who creates sustainable high-end forward thinking fashion. Rachael describes her self-titled label as “Semi-couture creations for the creative at heart.” Cassar blends high-end couture, sustainable and recycled materials, and ethical practices to merge a line of unique, beautiful pieces for special occasions. Her eye for detail and her ability to deconstruct, results in one-off garments that are comprised of 90% recycled materials, making her one of the most forward thinking designers of our time. But don’t take my word for it; her garments have been worn by the likes of Christina Ricci, Rihanna, Kristen Stewart, Ginnifer Goodwin, Kesha and Carrie Underwood.
Rachael is determined to change the stigma surrounding the topic and she’s never been shy to admit why she manufactures the way she does. In 2007, Rachael shared her story with Science Alert in an article highlighting the eco-shift in fashion, stating: “The only way that people are going to accept eco-fashion is if they’re not sacrificing anything for it. The trick is to replace cheaply made fashion with equally appealing but sustainable items. Designers no longer have an excuse for not using alternative materials as technology is constantly improving.” Rachael’s passion for sustainable practices was leading the movement more than eight years ago, and today, she’s joined by a growing number of designers who are aware of the impact their garments make.
So, the next time you fret about your environmental footprint, first think about the shoe. Whether you start at the top or start at the bottom, start somewhere; considering the entire fashion chain and your role within it, is what makes the difference. Although the shoes that you wear may only leave a light footprint, make sure that footprint is part of an ethical and sustainable trail that you’re proud to be following.